Remembering and the Sound of Words: Mallarme, Proust, Joyce, Beckett

Remembering the Sound of Words is a major new studyof four of modern literature's most important writers-and the first serious attempt to account for complex sound effects in prose Adam Piette establishes fascinating new links between such sound effects and the representation of memory in literary texts. He sets out a workable taxonomy of sound-repetitions in prose and formulates, throught a theory of alternating-devices, the ways in which the reader's attention is drawn to the acoustic surface of the text. Through close analysis of Mallarme's prose-poetry, Proust's musical syntax, Joyce's memory-rhymes (from the Portrait of the Artist through Ulysses to Finegan's Wake), and Beckett's prose and drama, Piette demonstrates that sound effects act as intricate reminders of memory-traces in the text. Despite wide divergence in these four writers' representations of memory, the book shows that the use of this memory-rhyme technique is common to them all, and is emplyed in particular to express the textual migration of past key-words, self-centred comic tyranny, and the fitful unifaction of body and memory within the narrative voice. Mimesis is redefined in terms of textual rhymes-facsimiles of the complex resemblances, fusions, and re-enactments of the mind's verbal memory.